Have you considered, or mapped out, the steps that your prospect go through, their B2B buying cycle?
- Think about the steps you went through for some of your recent purchases.
The traditional marketing model has four steps; Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action, known by the acronym ‘AIDA’. For more complex purchases and in the business to business market some models have 5, 6 or 7 steps, some involving a Trial before Action. However, there are two aspects that Wurlwind puts forward as modifications to AIDA.
- The first is to add the Reward stage at the end, to recognise the importance to the buyer of the post-purchase experience. This is the time when support, calls to customer service, etc could occur. It is also the period when happy customers could be encouraged and be willing to provide testimonials, endorsements, referrals and so on.
- The second is to recognise that in some complex buying situations there are multiple action steps, one of which might be trial. This could be treated as a Loop, repeating steps in AIDA but at progressive levels. We believe this approach builds in flexibility for different buying cycles, even between different customers or people within a decision-making unit.
To give an example related to a major project:
- Investigation for larger projects need to be justified internally in order to get resource. This involves the AIDA sequence even when the Action is to commit say 20 man days for a feasibility study and requirements specification.
- The search for potential suppliers leading to selection of one vendor for a pilot project is another AIDA sequence.
- The pilot project progression to a full implementation could be seen as a Loop through the IDA steps.
A second example concerns the trial or Freemium versions of software:
- The AIDA sequence to sign up for a free trial of software may be relatively simple.
- However, as many vendors are finding, the buying process to move from trial to paid-for license is much more of a challenge. Clearly Awareness and Interest are already present. However the Desire may have waned as other tasks and priorities overtake the initial Desire and Action.
See if you can write down the steps that your buyers go through, and even talk this through with some of your closer customers. Along the way you will find out things like:
- What was the compelling event or trigger that created Awareness?
- What raised their Interest in the topic, and helped to define their need?
- What questions came up along the way?
- What were the emotional, personal, professional and financial pay-offs that fostered the Desire?
- What concerns and risk came up during the process?
- What information did they needed, for themselves, and for others?
- What influenced their decision to make a choice and take a specific Action?
A clear understanding of the buying cycle will help to improve the sales cycle, and increase sales effectiveness.